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10 October 2019

OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

An AT&T asset sale has begun with palming off wireline and wireless assets in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to Liberty Latin America, weeks after the US operator denied reports it was exploring the sale of its DirecTV satellite TV business. AT&T will retain DirecTV assets in the two countries along with the FirstNet business, but we can’t help feeling that its Latin American exodus is a precursor to something much bigger.

 

Orange’s Livebox 5 set top and gateway has arrived in France, purpose-built for addressing bandwidth sharing limitations in the home without needing an additional fiber optical network terminal. The next gen hardware delivers up to 2 Gbps down and 600 Gbps up, installed with smart WiFi technology presumably from SoftAtHome as with previous Livebox generations, technology which shows a 40% improvement on downstream traffic over previous hardware.

 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is preparing to label streaming services as “effective competition” against MVPDs – which as a result would trigger basic rate deregulation. Cablecos like Charter Communications, which submitted an FCC investigation request, fear that the plummeting subscriber bases of satellite TV rivals, namely DirecTV and Dish Network, will cause regulators to reinstate basic rates as their own effective competition status dwindles. Charter and a handful of smaller operators are therefore targeting OTT video beginning with the MVPD service AT&T TV Now, nee DirecTV Now. However, how the FCC defines OTT video competition is unclear and we see this indecision stalling adoption of the order anytime soon.

Samsung has pledged $11 billion to developing quantum dot technology, planning to shift its entire production line of large format panels to OLED-based quantum dot displays, in doing so leaving behind cheaper liquid crystal displays. The move from the South Korean giant is a bet to stay ahead of Chinese rivals chasing the pack.

Roku has released a soundbar and a wireless subwoofer in partnership with the Walmart brand onn. Priced at $129 each, Roku is undercutting its own $179.99 smart soundbar released only a month ago, with the extra $50 getting you Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integrations.

Google’s Chromecast is the go-to connected TV device in Australia, topping out at a 12.1% market share, followed by Apple TV on 9.4%, Foxtel Now box on 7.7%, Telstra TV on 6.7%, and Fetch Mighty/Mini on 5.5%, according to a report from market research firm Roy Morgan.

Dutch telco KPN has launched its new Arris-made 4K HDR set top and remote control with dedicated Netflix button, running a Broadcom chipset with support for Dolby Atmos.

An investigation into excessive cable TV bills has been circulating widely, revealing that hidden fees bump up the average annual cable TV subscription by $450, according to Consumer Reports. Giving the example of Charter’s Spectrum, the report cites an advertised monthly triple play price of $89.97 for new subscribers, which quickly rose to $131.95 once the bill was topped up with the fees for two set tops and a sneaky broadcast fee for watching local cable channels.

Italy now has more mobile phones than TV sets, with the number of handsets increasing by 1.7% year on year to reach 43.6 million at the end of 2018, compared to 42.3 million TV sets. Total connected devices in Italy reached 111.8 million, a marginal 0.5% annual increase, averaging out at 4.6 million per household, according to data from the Auditel-Censis report. Results also showed smart TV sets present in 27.5% of Italian households, representing 8 million units, although interestingly only 6.5 million of these smart TVs are connected to the internet.

Speaking of which, connected TVs have grown to account for 50% of all video advertising impressions, based on data from Extreme Reach’s AdBridge platform, an asset management system for video ads. Mobile accounts for around 25% of all video ad impressions, according to the report, marking the fifth consecutive quarter that connected TVs have outranked mobile for video ad impressions share.

Programmatic ad platform SpotX has been tapped by US cable network AMC to monetize its OTT video content over the Halloween period, featuring 400 hours of programming across a wealth of devices. SpotX will supply its Demand Facilitation team to connect media buyers with premium inventory across open and private marketplaces – benefiting from access to exclusive video inventory.

Indian satellite TV giant Dish TV has integrated the Amazon Prime Video app ready for its forthcoming hybrid set top roll out available to all DTH subscribers.

Viacom International Studios has inked a handful of VoD deals for its newly acquired Awesomeness business, licensing content to the BBC, and 4Music in the UK, as well as RTL’s SVoD platform Videoland and Hungarian FTA TV channel MTVA.

Major League Baseball and Japan’s NTT have pooled resources on a proof of concept coined Ultra Reality Viewing, transmitting HD images from multiple 4K cameras to a monster 90.6-inch by 469-inch screen, with 6-channel surround sound, which the pair claims created a “uniquely transformative sensation that put the remote viewer into the ballpark and its atmosphere.”

Verizon Fios has woken from its slumber and signed a partnership deal with Movies Anywhere, the digital movie service owned jointly by Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Fios TV subs who have bought titles from the aforementioned studios can now access these libraries on Movies Anywhere, following in the footsteps of Comcast which became the first pay TV operator partner last year.

Teenagers are boycotting social media at a surprising rate, with 18% attesting to deleting social media apps this year, according to MediaCom’s 2019 Connected Kids survey. However, an alarming 48% of respondents admitted to spending excessive time on social media.

Multi-OTT video households have seen subscriptions soar 130% over five years, rising to 46% of all US broadband households with two or more OTT memberships, according to findings from Parks Associates.